• Jo Appleford-Cook

Message from the Mayor: Second Year as Mayor

My year as Mayor has been an amazing time for both me and my Consort and Chaplain Andy. It has been refreshing to set aside politics for a time (although still serving my ward as councillor) and concentrate on the lovely people of this Borough. It has been a joy to visit people and places, present awards, cut ribbons, attend shows and concerts, give speeches and generally get to know and encourage people who do all sorts of things in our locality – mostly getting on with the job of helping others who are in need.

It is therefore an extra privilege to continue to serve as Mayor for this coming year. After much consideration and discussion with the Deputy Mayor, it was decided that the time simply isn’t right for the hand over. So much that makes the mayoralty such a joy and honour would be missed as we continue to handle the current pandemic. I will therefore be the Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane until May 2021 when I sincerely hope we will have put aside the restrictions, difficulties and – for some – heartbreak of the coronavirus emergency and returned to normal life.

With a year’s experience under my belt I realise that it is helpful to let more people know about my aims and aspirations and encourage everybody to feel free to ask me to visit – or to visit me in the Parlour. Although this role brings with it many duties and expectations, the aspect that I love most is simply finding out about all the work that people are doing to serve our community and doing all I can to encourage that work and help people of like mind to join together in cooperation to be as effective as possible.

My husband, Dr Andy Taylor, is again my chaplain. He has worked in the church for many years, in recent years as Community Pastor, helping to start up and maintain church-run charities in addition to preaching and teaching.

However, we have many good friends of other faiths (and none) and have enjoyed joining in their celebrations and learning about their traditions – from Ramadan meals to the Hindu celebration of Navrati (complete with dancing!). I hope to continue those friendships across cultures and religions that I have already formed, and make new ones too. Our Borough has become increasingly diverse over recent years, and that has been a good thing. I am a great believer in learning from people who are different from me – embracing their different views and ideals – and hopefully as a result learning to be tolerant and understanding.

So, as Mayor for the coming year I am looking forward to meeting many more Basingstoke people. It will be very different for the time being as we emerge from our period of distancing, but let’s find a way to connect, encourage and function again, if not face to face then at least online. Please contact me either via the Mayor’s official route if it is to do with a visit or occasion, or direct to cllr.diane.taylor@basingstoke.gov.uk.

See you soon!

Cllr Diane Taylor